The Red Sox’ offensive struggles continued on Monday as they opened their four-game series against the Blue Jays with yet another loss. Boston fell to Toronto by a final score of 6-2 at Rogers Centre to drop to 7-10 on the season.
Nathan Eovaldi, making his fourth start of the year for the Sox, was extremely effective and did not factor into Monday’s decision. The veteran right-hander allowed just two earned run on five hits, no walks, and five strikeouts over seven economic innings of work.
Both runs Eovaldi surrendered to Toronto came by way of the long ball. After tossing four scoreless frames to start his day, the righty served up a 380-foot solo shot to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to lead off the bottom of the fifth.
In his seventh and final inning, Eovaldi yielded another solo homer to Matt Chapman. This one left Chapman’s bat at 107.2 mph, traveled 422 feet to left-center field, and gave the Jays a 2-0 lead.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 72 (56 strikes), Eovaldi induced a total of 10 swings-and-misses while throwing 29 four-seam fastballs, 22 curveballs, 12 sliders, six splitters, and three cutters. The hard-throwing 32-year-old also topped out at 98.8 mph with his heater.
Shortly after Eovaldi’s night had ended, a Trevor Story-lessRed Sox lineup finally got something going against his counterpart in Blue Jays starter Jose Berrios. Up until the eighth inning, Boston had been held in check by Berrios despite having a few scoring opportunities.
Earlier in the second inning, J.D. Martinez made his presence felt after a four-game absence by ripping a one-out double to center field. A four-pitch walk drawn by Jackie Bradley Jr. and line-drive single from Bobby Dalbec then loaded the bases for Christian Arroyo.
Arroyo, however, was unable to come through with a pair of runners in scoring position as he grounded into a back-breaking, 1-2-3 double play that extinguished the threat.
In the top of the fourth, Xander Bogaerts led off with a hard-hit single of his own and moved up to second on a Rafael Devers groundout. But he left on base after Martinez and Bradley Jr. both flew out themselves.
An inning later, Blue Jays center fielder George Springer robbed Kevin Plawecki of a two-out extra-base hit when he sprawled out and made a sensational diving catch on a 101.7 mph liner off the bat of the Red Sox catcher.
Fast forward all the way to the eighth, and the Sox ultimately chased Berrios on back-to-back singles from Dalbec and Arroyo to lead off the inning. With Adam Cimber now on the mound for Toronto, Plawecki advanced both runners into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt.
With the lineup turning back over, Enrique Hernandez broke the seal with an RBI single to left field that brought in Dalbec. Alex Verdugo followed with a sacrifice fly that scored Arroyo and knotted things up at two runs apiece.
That 2-2 tie did not last long, though. With Eovaldi done after seven, Matt Strahm got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen from acting manager Will Venable in the middle of the eighth.
Strahm got the first out of the frame but issued a one-out single to Raynel Espinal. Bradley Zimmer then dropped a drag bunt down the first base line that Strahm fielded cleanly and flipped to Dalbec covering first base. Dalbec could not squeeze the ball into his glove, though, and that allowed both runners to reach base safely.
That sequence prompted Venable to give Strahm the hook in favor of Tyler Danish, who gave up a single to Springer that loaded the bases for Bichette. Bichette, in turn, crushed a 1-0, 92 mph sinker from Danish and sent it 344 feet over the right field wall for the go-ahead grand slam.
Bichette’s slam gave the Blue Jays a commanding 6-2 lead heading into the ninth. Devers doubled to lead off the inning but was stranded there as Martinez, Bradley Jr., and Dalbec went down in order to Julian Merryweather to seal the defeat.
Some notes from this loss:
Nathan Eovaldi gave up 15 home runs in 182 2/3 innings last season. He has already given up seven home runs in just 21 2/3 innings this season.
The Red Sox went 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position on Monday and left five runners on base as a team.
At 7-10, Boston has now lost five of its last six games. They are averaging less than 2.2 runs per game and have been outscored 26-13 during this rough stretch.
Next up: Pivetta vs. Gausman
It does not get any easier for the Red Sox as they will go up against Blue Jays right-hander Kevin Gausman on Tuesday night. Boston will counter with Canadian-born righty Nick Pivetta.
First pitch from Rogers Centre is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Bo Bichette: Mark Blinch/Getty Images)